This is the first post of the “Unpacking Medical Interpreter Certifications” series, check out the second post (CCHI edition) here.

If you are thinking of becoming a medical interpreter, having a national certification is key to paving the way for a successful career in the field.

In this post series, we will give you valuable information on the certifications provided by the two major medical/healthcare interpreter accreditation bodies in the country, NBCMI and CCHI.

For our first post, we will start with the National Board of Certified Medical Interpreters (NBCMI).


What is the NBCMI?


The National Board of Certified Medical Interpreter has the mission of improving healthcare outcomes, enhance patient safety, and foster effective patient/provider communication. 

They achieve this by upholding the highest standards and quality of medical interpreting through a nationally recognized and validated certification for medical interpreters. 

Aspiring interpreters can apply for either the Hub-CMI credential or the CMI certification.


Benefits of getting certified as a medical interpreter with the NBCMI


  • Recognition: Industry stakeholders recognize interpreters for their quality work.
  • Inclusiveness: the same credential is used for all medical interpreters (in-person & remote)
  • Simplicity: as a credentialed/certified interpreter, you don’t have to prove your competence to every employer or health care facility. 

By becoming a NBCMI certified interpreter, you also join their public registry.


Basic NBCMI Requirements for becoming a medical interpreter


Before diving into the certification process, make sure you meet these basic requirements:

Let’s take a closer look at the medical interpreter education prerequisite, and how you can meet the criteria according to NBCMI standards.


Medical Interpreter Education: the most important prerequisite


Not all interpreting training meets the NBCMI standards for medical interpreting. To meet the criteria, you must submit one of the following:

  • A transcript from a college or university where you took at least 3 credit hours of medical interpreting coursework.
  • A Certificate of Completion from an accepted medical interpreter training course of at least 40 hours.

Once you’ve fulfilled all prerequisites, you’re ready to pursue your medical interpreter certification. Now it’s time to choose between the Hub-CMI credential or the CMI certification.


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Hub-CMI or CMI: Which One Should You Choose?


The primary difference between the Hub-CMI and the CMI is their target languages. 

The Hub-CMI credential is available to all interpreters, regardless of target language, while the CMI (Certified Medical Interpreter) certification is offered in six languages: 

  • Spanish
  • Cantonese
  • Mandarin
  • Russian
  • Korean
  • Vietnamese

In order to get certified, you need to pass the certification process, which includes a written exam (earning you the Hub-CMI status). If there is a CMI certification available in your target language, you will continue the process of certification and take an oral exam.

Let’s delve into the specific processes for each certification.


Hub-CMI credential process


  • Step 1. Register for the CMI Program: 
  • Step 2. Take and pass the written exam: 
  • Step 3. You earn your Hub-CMI credential, which is valid for four years 

Once you achieve Hub-CMI status, you’ll need to accumulate continuing education units (CEUs) to renew your credential.


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CMI certification process


As mentioned earlier, the CMI is offered in six languages: Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, Korean, and Vietnamese

After achieving the Hub-CMI credential, you have two years to complete the oral exam for the CMI certification.

  • Step 1. Register for the CMI program.
  • Step 2. Take and pass the written exam.

(You are then qualified for the Hub-CMI for 2 years with no option for renewal, but can proceed to step 3).

  • Step 3. Take and pass the oral exam.
  • Step 4. CMI is granted, and your certification is valid for five years.

After you achieve your CMI status, you will need to complete continuing education units (CEUs) to be able to renew your certification.


Continuing Education Units (CEUs): keeping your certification updated


Both Hub-CMI and CMI certifications require Continuing Education Units (CEUs). The number of CEUs you need depends on your specific credential or certification and the time of your renewal application, ranging from 1.5 CEUs (15 approved hours) to 3 CEUs (30 approved hours).

You can accumulate CEUs by participating in workshops, webinars, courses, and more. Just ensure that the educational activities you choose are approved by the NBCMI board.




Obtaining a medical interpreter certification from NBCMI is a fantastic way to excel in the field and unlock numerous opportunities for professional growth. 

Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we’ll explore the medical interpreting certification offered by CCHI.

Remember, investing in your education and keeping your skills up to date will set you on the path to a successful career as a certified medical interpreter.




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